Zanjabeel cracks America again with Lonesome Glory win
Zanjabeel reeled in another big prize since moving to America as the five-year-old solidified his position atop the National Steeplechase Association's championship ladder with a hard-fought victory over Hinterland in the $175,000 Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Handicap Hurdle at Belmont Park on Thursday.
Formerly with Gordon Elliott, Zanjabeel signed off for previous connections with victory at Far Hills last October and has now won two top-level prizes for new trainer Ricky Hendriks.
Jack Kennedy rode the winner for Hendriks, while Elliott's representative in the race, Clarcam, could finish only sixth on his second US outing.
Former British jumpers Optimus Prime and Three Kingdoms filled third and fourth spots.
Zanjabeel has finished no worse than second in his six starts in America since last October and increased his 2018 earnings to $265,500 with this latest victory.
While his previous Grade 1 win in the Iroquois Stakes may have been a relatively easy, the Lonesome Glory was a test of fortitude for Zanjabeel, who is owned by Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm.
Off since the Iroquois, he was third in the weights at 156lb (11st 2lb), two behind Clarcam, also owned by Rosbrian and Meadow Run, and Rosbrian's Optimus Prime, winner of Saratoga's New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap.
Kennedy, who rode Zanjabeel in his US debut last autumn in Far Hills' Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices, received the call from trainer Hendriks after Ross Geraghty remained on Optimus Prime.
In the race it was Clarcam who set a moderate pace under Jack Doyle with Optimus Prime close up and the winner flowing easily over his fences in third or fourth spot.
Clarcam retained his lead at the last fence, located on Belmont's backstretch, and briefly opened up an advantage on his rivals on the final turn. But Kennedy was moving Zanjabeel forward on the inside and they seized the lead early in Belmont's stretch before holding off the challenging Hinterland under Sean McDermott to win by a length and three-quarters.
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